Jo-Anna Nieves is the owner of The Nieves Law Firm, APC in Oakland. She is a member of the Criminal Court Appointed Attorneys Program (CAAP) and the Judicial Appointments Evaluation Committee (JAEC). Jo-Anna was the 2016 Chair of the ACBA Barristers Section’s Executive Committee. She is also a member of the Earl Warren American Inns of Court, and an active volunteer with El Centro Legal de La Raza. Jo-Anna was named a “Super Lawyer: Rising Star” by Thomson Reuters in 2016.
Jo-Anna Nieves is the recipient of the ACBA’s Distinguished Service Award for New Lawyer. She is is an active and engaged member of the Alameda County Bar Association, and her passion, commitment to excellence, quiet reflection, and drive for justice and service embodies the spirit of the ideal new lawyers in Alameda County. Join us on January 26th to honor Jo-Anna at our annual Installation and Distinguished Service Awards Dinner.
When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?
About halfway through law school. I was very young when I finished undergrad and I took the LSAT because two of my sorority sisters were studying for it and it seemed like an interesting option. I was the only one of us who actually ended up going to law school. During my 2L year I took a criminal practice clinic and that’s when I realized I actually wanted to practice law and be in a courtroom.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be Dr. Pimple Popper if I could stomach it, but more than likely I would be using my undergraduate degrees and running a business. I love numbers.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?
There’s absolutely nothing better than working for yourself and doing what you love. I also know how to access in custody clients in the courthouse and how to make jail visits with ease – two practical things they never taught in law school.
What is the biggest challenge facing you as a lawyer today?
Being a criminal defense attorney comes with a heavy burden: your clients need you, their families need you, and the odds are stacked against them – waking up each day and recognizing injustices, wanting to effectuate change and feeling like your efforts will never be enough but still maintaining a healthy balance, mindset, and lifestyle is probably the biggest challenge.
What is your favorite part of being a lawyer?
The lawyer jokes and owning my own business.
What is your dream vacation?
My dream vacation would be a year long tour of Europe. I would eat, eat, and eat some more and then easily burn it all off by exploring the cities, touring museums and taking in the scenery.
What are you reading now?
I read multiple books at the same time to target various aspects of my life. Right now I’m reading Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero, and The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
My parents were strict and I was a great student academically but I got into trouble and idle mischief. This is part of the reason I volunteer with El Centro Legal de la Raza’s Youth Law Academy. I can understand the need for our youth to have a consistent, relatable adult in their lives who can mentor them about upper level education, options for their future, and making wise choices.
What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?
Why did you decide to be an ACBA member? What is the greatest benefit of membership?
I decided to become an ACBA member because the bulk of my network was in Florida and I wanted to feel a sense of community now that I was making a transition to Oakland. I definitely found what I was looking for. There are so many benefits that come with being a member of ACBA but I would say the greatest ones for me have been the camaraderie I’ve experienced being involved with the Barristers section, CAAP and JAEC, and the consistent access to quality MCLEs.
Join us on January 26th to honor Jo-Anna Nieves and the rest of the Distinguished Service Award recipients at the ACBA’s annual Installation and Distinguished Service Awards Dinner.
Network with your colleagues and enjoy a delicious dinner, catered by Scott’s Seafood, during the awards ceremony. We are pleased to announce David J. Kelly, General Counsel & Vice President of Basketball Management and Strategy for the Bay Area’s own Golden State Warriors, as this year’s featured speaker.